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A Journal of Cannabis and Culture

The Parent Talk

The Parent Talk

TEXT BY: Jane Borden
ILLUSTRATION BY: Charlie Hankin

What, you don’t want to be high around your kids? Come on, man, everybody’s doing it. Kidding, kidding—just most everybody. In the past, parents cautioned their children against weed. Today, moms and dads not only use cannabis, but also help their own parents understand it too.

Parenting on Pot

“I used to be terrified to smoke marijuana when I was with my kids, because I didn’t want to be impaired around them,” says Los Angeles dad Paul. Now, small-dose electronic pens actually help him parent. “Kids are like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, testing the fences for weaknesses,” he says. Microdosing reorients him enough to approach his children with patient problem-solving instead of reactionary anger. “Kids are tempests and what they need most is to look to their parents and see the calm inside their storm.”

Does he tell other parents about this? Of course. However, at the same time, he doesn’t feel inclined to mention it, he explains, “in the same way I wouldn’t bring up that I took an Advil last night. It no longer feels taboo or really all that interesting.”

On the other hand, it will definitely be interesting to kids. And they will find it. But there’s no need to say it’s oregano. Rich, who also lives in California, uses cannabis, he says, “to relax my overactive brain, in conjunction with SSRIs,” and as a creative companion when he cooks, draws, and writes. “I never smoke in front of my kids,” he says, but nor does he lie. “Honesty is a much more important value to me as a parent.” Last year, he grew six plants in their yard and talked about them to his kids, ages 9 and 11. “I was also growing tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, and thyme, so it was just another part of the garden.”

Washington, DC, resident Melissa says her kids, ages 13 and 17, always know when she uses cannabis, because otherwise she doesn’t get out of bed. “I have multiple sclerosis,” she says. “My children know that the other option is opioids, and they don’t like it when I take pills.” Pharmaceuticals make her sleep all day. “With cannabis, I can be awake to spend time with them. It is a medicine that helps me function.”

Of course, a lot of people smoke pot in order to not function normally—especially teenagers. As your kids age, how can you parent without turning into “The Man”? When Heidi, also in Los Angeles, recently caught her teenage stepdaughter using pot, she says, “We told her she was not in trouble, but that she should not use it now, or drink alcohol. Those are things she is welcome to do when she is older, after her brain has finished developing.” Her daughter was receptive and seemed to understand. That’s definitely more effective than threatening military school.

Potting Your Parents

Honestly, it can be more awkward to have the “pot talk” with your own parents. But that isn’t stopping Xer and Millennial parents from bringing the bong out of the closet. Heidi says her mother is cautiously curious—for the same reason she used to be opposed. “She’s a doctor,” Heidi explains. “She spent most of her life being against any non–FDA-regulated drug.”

Recently, though, on a visit to California, Heidi’s mom accepted an invitation to visit a cannabis dispensary. “I was getting some tincture for my father-in-law, to see if it would help him with his Parkinson’s. She and I have discussed the benefits of cannabis in treating certain health problems. She’s opened up a lot.”

Paul’s parents were certainly not as open when he was growing up in a small Midwest town in the 1990s. “Anyone who used cannabis was a druggie,” he says. He also recalls the night when they started to change their minds. On a trip to visit Paul, they all attended an outdoor film screening in Hollywood. “Everyone was on picnic blankets, and of course people started smoking pot around us,” he says. “At the end of the night, they remarked how everyone was so nice, calm, and orderly. I could see them start to understand in the smallest way that perhaps there are worse things than using a little cannabis and sitting under the stars with your neighbors.“

This story and many more are available in the newest issue of EMBER magazine—made with our partners, PAPER magazine. You can grab a copy at your local MedMen cannabis dispensary or at Barnes and Noble.

A Journal of Cannabis and Culture
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